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Weekly Primer

New coach Torchetti hopes to turn around Wild

Makes debut Monday for Minnesota, which has lost eight straight

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Fletcher on Bringing in Torchetti

Chuck Fletcher on Bringing in Torchetti - 2/14/16

Chuck Fletcher spoke with the media about late season coaching changes and what John Torchetti brings to the table

  • 01:25 •

John Torchetti hasn't been behind an NHL bench since the 2010-11 season when he was an associate coach with the Atlanta Thrashers. 

But with the Minnesota Wild reeling (eight consecutive losses and one win in their past 14 games), Torchetti returns to the NHL on Monday when the Wild visit the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV).

Torchetti replaces Mike Yeo as coach; Yeo was fired Saturday after Minnesota's latest defeat, a 4-2 loss against the Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center. 

"Just making sure that we understand we all have got to be accountable to play hard and compete and win our battles every night," Torchetti, 51, said when asked what his initial message to the players will be. "[I'm] looking forward to seeing that [Monday] night." 

The coach of Minnesota's American Hockey League affiliate since Nov. 11, 2014, Torchetti has served as interim coach for the Florida Panthers (2003-04; 27 games) and Los Angeles Kings (2005-06; 12 games). He also has been an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. 

"I have a little bit of an idea with the players and how they're feeling," Torchetti told the Wild website. "I'm just very excited about the opportunity and hopefully my past experience with clubs, it's my third time, just dealing with the players, that's the No. 1 thing moving forward."

Video: Chuck Fletcher on Coaching Change - 2/14/16

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention this week: 

Monday, Feb. 15: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; FS-SW, FS-TN, NHL.TV) -- It's the first of a three-game road trip for the Stars, who have won three in a row and moved past the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division and Western Conference. Both teams have 77 points, but Dallas has played three fewer contests. Dallas center Tyler Seguin has six points (two goals, four assists) during the winning streak. 

Tuesday, Feb. 16: Los Angeles Kings at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; FS-W, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) -- Two of the top teams in the NHL go head-to-head at Verizon Center. It's the fifth of a seven-game road trip for the Kings, who could have goalie Jonathan Quick back in the lineup; he's missed the past three games because of an undisclosed injury. Washington has earned a point in 31 of its past 36 games. 

Wednesday, Feb. 17: Chicago Blackhawks at New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) -- It's the first time the Blackhawks and Rangers will get together since the season opener, when New York earned a 3-2 victory at United Center. Wednesday could mark the return of Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who has missed the past four games because of a concussion. 

Thursday, Feb. 18: Washington Capitals at New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, MSG+, NHL.TV) -- New York has been outscored 7-3 in two losses against the Capitals, their first-round opponent in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Islanders captain John Tavares has a five-game point streak, which has featured three multi-point games. 

Saturday, Feb. 20: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins (12:30 p.m. ET; SUN, ROOT, NHL.TV) -- The Penguins are faring better under coach Mike Sullivan and have won seven of their past 10 games in a push for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tampa Bay has won seven of 10 and has moved within six points of the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division. 

Sunday, Feb. 21: Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC) -- The 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series gets underway at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where the Wild will play their first outdoor game. "The idea of playing in one is pretty special, and for us to get to do it at home as opposed to on the road, and in a place where hockey is such a part of the culture, for the families, for everyone, I think the whole weekend is going to be a fun time for a lot of people," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "There's a handful of guys in the same situation as me that grew up in Minnesota, grew up on the outdoor rinks, at the parks. Now it all just comes full circle now that we're playing outdoors in the NHL in Minnesota. It's great." 

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings -- Datsyuk scored twice in and had an assist in a 6-5 win against the Boston Bruins on Sunday and extended his point streak to five games (five goals, four assists). He has 33 points in 41 games this season. 

Datsyuk's power-play goal in the first period was his 900th NHL point. He is the sixth Red Wings player to reach the milestone, joining Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio. Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov. 

"For me it's a big stepping stone, but it [doesn't] happen without lots of good players I am playing with," Datsyuk said. "Lots of helping and supporting, and lots of teaching me too. Lots of [people] giving me advice." 

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins -- Marchand scored eight seconds into the game against Detroit on Sunday. He has scored in seven straight games and has goals in 12 of 13 games (13 goals). Marchand is the first Bruins player with a seven-game goal streak since Patrice Bergeron during the 2013-14 season. 

Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres -- Kane is starting to provide the kind of offense the Sabres envisioned when they acquired him from the Winnipeg Jets last year. He scored again in Buffalo's 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, giving him four goals in his past four games, six in his past eight and eight in his past 13. 

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals -- The Capitals captain has scored in each of his past four games and is up to 35 goals this season. It's the ninth time in his career Ovechkin has scored at least 35 goals; he has 28 more games to reach 50 for a third straight season. 

LINE CHANGES 

Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers -- Coach Todd McLellan decided to separate Hall and Leon Draisaitl on Saturday, when Edmonton dropped a 2-1 shootout decision against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place. Hall was placed on a line with Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian; Draisaitl was with Teddy Purcell and Iiro Pakarinen.  

Hall hasn't scored since Jan. 18, a span of 10 games. 

"My play hasn't been where I want, and the production has been accordingly so," Hall told the Edmonton Sun. "I have to get my all-around game back, and the production will take care of itself." 

Andrew MacDonald, Philadelphia Flyers -- Signed to a six-year, $30 million contract two years ago, MacDonald was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League this past weekend after defenseman Michael Del Zotto sustained an upper-body injury during a 2-1 loss against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. MacDonald was paired with rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere at the New York Rangers on Sunday. It was MacDonald's second NHL game this season. 

"At times last year I felt as if I couldn't make the right play ever," MacDonald told the Courier-Post. "It's just always in your head. I think now I'm just able to go out there and trust my instincts and get my feet moving when I get the puck and little things like that instead of kind of thinking too much about what you want to do with it." 

Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres -- Girgensons returned against Colorado on Sunday after missing three games because of a lower-body injury. He found himself back at center on the third line with Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta after playing on the wing alongside Jack Eichel prior to the injury. The Sabres won, but Girgensons did not have a point. 

POINT SHOTS 

Capitals forward Brooks Laich has one goal in his past 40 games and is adjusting to life as a fourth-line player. He has six points in 53 games this season. "I've actually come to peace with the fact that my job is to play the game - my job is not to coach," Laich told The Washington Post. "Earlier in the season, maybe I looked at [the lineup] and said, 'I'd really like to jump into that spot' and if I didn't get the opportunity it may have weighed on me mentally. Now I'm coming to the rink with a clear mind and a peace and a joy of playing the game." … New Jersey Devils backup goalie Keith Kinkaid got his first NHL shutout in a 1-0 win against Los Angeles on Sunday. Kinkaid has a 2.28 goals-against average in 11 games this season. … Gostisbehere got an assist Sunday to increase his point streak to 12 games (three goals, 12 assists), extending his NHL record for a rookie defenseman. 

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